Buddha gives us a hand in the garden

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The unusual “Buddha’s Hand” tree is an interesting sight in Foster Botanical Garden, a tranquil oasis in bustling downtown Honolulu.

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It belongs to the citrus family, and is originally from India.

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This fruit looks more like Buddha’s claw.

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And this one has lots of extra fingers.

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There’s a nice Buddha statue nearby too.  A visit to the garden is an enlightening way to spend the day.

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The hat in the sea, and thereabouts

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Tiny Mokoli’i Island, near Kualoa, is one of O’ahu’s most interesting geographical sites.

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But nobody really calls it Mokoli’i.  Pretty much everyone just calls it “Chinaman’s Hat.”  Yes, it’s a terribly outdated term, but it’s a very old name and in Hawaii it’s said without any animosity and nobody seems to take any offense, so don’t get all San Francisco PC about it and insist on calling it “Asian Person’s Head-Covering” or whatever.

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It’s a unique and awesome place, by any name.

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Look closely above and you’ll see three attack helicopters from nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

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One day, many moons ago when I was young and indestructible, I swam alone around the whole island, just because.  I wouldn’t do it today, at least not alone.  Currents and sharks, and it gets deep pretty quick on the other side.

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Must be an awesome view from up there.

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The Mokumanu Islands on the left are just past the tip of the Mokapu Peninsula on the right, where the base is located.

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Somebody left some nice white coral on a coconut tree stump.

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Behind some bushes in Kualoa Regional Park is a hidden world, a small pond with lots of wildlife.

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Two Ae’o, or Hawaiian Stilts, are hanging out.  And yes, that looks like a beer can in a paper bag floating on the water.  What a shame.

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They’re really cute!

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And have BIG mouths.

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Hunting for something.

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Looks like some kind of Molly.

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And those are Tilapia.

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I swear they look like a couple of ice-skaters!

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Just doin’ their thing.

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Great day at Kualoa and Mokoli’i.

Bay Area interlude: Part I

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An early morning at the Sutro Baths ruins near the Cliff House at the north end of Ocean Beach, San Francisco.  The Sutro Baths opened in 1896 as the world’s largest indoor pool.  The structure burned down in 1966 and the area has been a nice place to wander ever since.

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The ruins are now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes some good walking paths and trails, even a couple tunnels.

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Parts of the ruins now function as artificial tidepools.

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The Seal Rocks, just off the beach, are mostly full of pelicans these days.

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A guano miner’s dream.

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Just don’t splat us, please.

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There’s a nice beach at low tide, but it’s not there for long.

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A gathering spot for early morning fishermen.

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There are also lots of big black ravens.  They remind me of the Maltese Falcon, a San Francisco icon (and cliche).

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The sandstone cliffs are really cool.

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So are the bluffs above.

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Somebody’s lost feather got stuck in a California Poppy, making it look almost like a Hawaiian Hibiscus.

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The north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is barely visible through the morning fog.

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Along with another squadron of pelicans.

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We’ll head over that way too.

 

Mauna Lahilahi Hawaiian petroglyphs

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It’s a distinct rock feature along the beach (makai) side of Farrington Highway as you travel up the Waianae Coast through Makaha.  Mauna Lahilahi includes fascinating remnants of the early Hawaiian civilization that thrived for centuries before contact with outsiders.

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There are numerous old petroglyphs carved into the rocks, apparently by different hands and at different times.  Some have been marred by modern graffiti or chipped away by time, but many are surprisingly intact, and include figures of both humans and dogs.

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Sometimes you have to look very closely to spot the images.

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Mauna Lahilahi can be climbed relatively easily, but you do have to watch your step, and it’s definitely not for everyone.  The views from the tiny peak are spectacular.  It almost feels like you are on the edge of the world.

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Around the base of Mauna Lahilahi are remnants of several old heiau, or traditional Hawaiian temples.  They should not be disturbed.

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If you visit Mauna Lahilahi, be aware that there are often several small encampments of homeless people tucked among the rocks and scrub around the base and along the shoreline, and some much larger and unrulier encampments elsewhere along the Waianae Coast.  The campers usually show a reasonable level of respect if you do too, and some individuals are quite friendly.  But there are also some hard-core drug abusers and real trouble-makers who don’t need much provocation to lash out, so it’s best to keep your voice down and not stare or do anything to create conflict.